When Jack Wilshere mesmerised the masses with a mouth-watering performance against the mighty Barcelona back in 2011, it seemed the sky was the limit for the then 19-year-old. He had the world at his feet and was tipped by many to go on and become an Arsenal and England hero.
Even after swapping the Emirates Stadium for his boyhood West Ham in 2018, very few would have predicted he’d end up a free agent and have to drop down to the Championship to try and reignite his waning career just shy of three years later.
It was announced today that Wilshere, who spent some time on loan at Bournemouth previously, has re-signed for the Cherries on a short-term deal.
Wilshere got his first taste of Premier League football under Arsene Wenger at the tender age of 16 years, eight months and 12 days. He was playing Champions League football just two months later and tipped by many to go on and become a future Arsenal captain.
Unfortunately, injuries prevented him ever fulfilling his undoubted potential and he joined Bournemouth on loan in 2016, presenting Wilshere with an opportunity to continue playing in the top-flight whilst working his way back to fitness after a series of long-term injuries.
With every return from the treatment room came a hope that this player who had promised so much in the early years of his career had finally put his fitness troubles behind him but his body just kept breaking down.
Now only a former England international, the now 29-year-old has 34 caps to his name. The midfielder took part in seven of England’s Euro 2016 qualifiers and was named man of the match in six of them – proof that even past his early prime, the boy could play.
Wilshere certainly proved he had the ability to strut his stuff on the biggest stages, dictating midfields and imposing himself on games regularly. He set the bar so high from the off that once his fitness became a constant issue, it became pretty much impossible for him to reach those heights again.
Often, that magical night at the Emirates on which he dazzled against Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets is used as a barometer of the level he was capable of performing at.
A gifted technician capable of receiving the ball in the tightest of spaces and with an excellent passing range. Wilshere, at the peak of his powers, also offered a drive to any midfield he was in with an ability to carry the ball into dangerous areas that was at times underrated.
With regards to his chances of playing for one of England or Europe’s biggest clubs again, that ship has sailed, but the player and his fans alike will be hoping first and foremost that he can just get back to playing football regularly – at whatever level.